Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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What I’ll Remember Most About the 2011 Elections

At this morning, Virginia Democrats do not hold a single Virginia executive office, they're a small minority in the House of Delegates, and now they have (barring recount) lost control of the State Senate. Former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot has written a devastating postmortem that I can't recommend enough and encourage you to read in full if you haven't already.

As for me, what I'll remember most about the 2011 election cycle is this ad from House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong trashing just about everything Democrats believe in. The leader of House Democrats - as chosen by his fellow House Democrats - distances himself from President Obama, a woman's right to choose, reasonable gun safety regulations, and limits on air pollution - all in one ad.

I understand the need to emphasize different issues and rely on different messaging in different parts of the state. But if you try to run away from the leader of your party and everything your party believes in, not only are you hurting your own team, voters don't buy it. A friend pointed me to this quote from Harry Truman:

I've seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn't believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don't want a phony Democrat. If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don't want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.
Just as Harry predicted, Ward Armstrong lost anyway. And just as former Rep. Glenn Nye did last year, Armstrong managed to not just lose, but hurt the party he was supposed to be leading in the process, making Democrats look like a bunch of gutless phonies who'd throw a friend under the bus in a second if a consultant told them it might help their chances of getting re-elected.

Does the DPVA Still Benefit Its Members—- and the Citizens of...

That is the question former Governor Douglas Wilder recently asked in an article in  Virginia Tomorrow.  Some in the past have referred to the former Governor as "a loose cannon," and it looks as though the cannon has fired a devastating broadside against what he himself clearly had considered in large part his own creation, the modern, post-Byrd-machine Democratic Party of Virginia.  Mr. Wilder is unhappy with the condition, policies, leadership, and prospects of his party today---- in fact, with the whole shebang. In making his case, he writes:
"Before the Voting Rights Act, the voting populace of Virginia was so small one observer of southern politics said this commonwealth made the notoriously voter-hostile Mississippi look like a hotbed for democracy. After the passage of the VRA, voters with darker faces and those without family wealth and prestige dating back to 1619 started to cast ballots in larger numbers."

Thereafter, as in other states subject to the VRA, a realignment of the political landscape began, with the shifts at first benefitting Republicans (after all, the Great Empancipator, Abraham Lincoln, was a Republican), which is how in 1969 Republican Linwood Holton was elected to the governorship.  (FYI side-note: it was in 1619 that the first slaves from Africa arrived in Virginia---- the past is never really past, in the Old Dominion).

The decade of the 1970's was when the Democratic Party re-built itself "from the ground up" on the ruins of the formerly all-powerful Byrd machine.  This was a slow process, "shedding the ultra-conservative Byrd elements," elements which began joining the Republican Party, freeing the Democrats to build an essentially new party coalition of diversity through painstaking grassroots organizing on "just about a precinct-by-precinct level."  Wilder praises Chuck Robb for bringing the "disparate groups and entities together" in 1981, when Robb ended the 1970's Republican electoral dominance with 12 years of Democratic sweeps in the commonwealth.

Perriello: Bring It On

Telling members of the Democratic Party of Virginia that "the truth is on our side," Rep. Tom Perriello (D-5th) energized the members of the party Central Committee, which met in Charlottesville today. Today also marked the kickoff for the Perriello campaign of seven canvassing drives throughout that geographically large district.

Rep. Perriello emphasized that his campaign will be one of person-to-person contact, nothing that his campaign volunteers had already made 60,000 phone calls and knocked on 5,000 doors.

The basic themes of Tom Perriello's re-election campaign will focus on the need to rebuild the competitive advantage of the American economy and rebuilding the strength of the hard-working middle class, while putting our nation "on the right side of history."

More Perriello remarks after the "flip"

Susan Mariner for 1st Vice Chair of DPVA

With the DPVA's central committee set to meet tomorrow and vote on who is to be the next 1st Vice Chair of the organization, bloggers across Virginia are posting their closing arguments in favor of their favorite.  The Richmonder supports Susan Mariner for 1st Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia.  Susan has displayed tremendous commitment to growing the Democratic Party of Virginia.  She has the right skills to grow and unify the party going forward.

Susan Mariner has shown the energy needed to fight for all Democrats in every race.  I first met Susan during the Webb campaign in 2006.  Jim Webb's campaign for the U.S. Senate was far from a sure thing, but Susan was tireless in her support.  It was the commitment of people like Susan that positioned Jim Webb to take advantage when George Allen's campaign fell apart in August 2006.

The post of 1st Vice Chair is charged with growing the Democratic Party of Virginia.  You can't do that by focusing just on the easy races.  Susan has shown that she will take on the longshot campaigns that produce upset victories.  Susan has shown that she can work within the Democratic establishment in Virginia while, at the same time, reaching out to new and growing constituencies.

When I decided to support Susan Mariner for the post of 1st Vice Chair of DPVA I also made the decision not to engage in any negative campaigning.  I do not know Gaylene Kanoyton, but from everything I have heard about her she seems to be a perfectly decent person and qualified for the position.  I simply believe from past experience that Susan Mariner is the superior candidate for the position.

What I do find myself compelled to criticize is the element of race that has been injected into this competition by some of Gaylene's supporters.  I have no reason to believe that Gaylene approves of these arguments made on her behalf, so I would ask my readers not to hold them against Gaylene personally.  

The element of race I am referring to is the idea that the post of 1st Vice Chair is "set aside" or "reserved" for a black woman.  I have searched the DPVA party plan in vain for such a rule, yet there are those who seem to believe it exists.

Mariner for 1st Vice Chair

This is simply another reminder. If you think that the DPVA could do a better job connecting with the grassroots, and if you have a vote on the Central Committee of the party or can contact someone who does, then Saturday is the day when we can begin to bring about change.

We can change our party for the better. I have a simple message:

Susan Mariner for 1st Vice Chair!

DPVA: Health care lawsuit “a taxpayer-funded stunt to increase Ken Cuccinelli’s...

Strong words from the Democratic Party of Virginia:
Paperwork to establish Cuccinelli's new Liberty Now PAC was filed with the Virginia State Board of Elections on March 23.

That's the same day President Obama signed the health care reform bill into law. And the same day Cuccinelli filed suit on behalf of Virginia against the law, arguing Congress exceeded its Constitutional power in requiring individuals to purchase health insurance.


Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Democrats, said the timing makes "Ken Cuccinelli's motives crystal clear: The Attorney General is using Virginians' tax dollars as a piggy bank for his personal political agenda....It seems clear that this health care lawsuit is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded stunt to increase Ken Cuccinelli's campaign kitty."


Meanwhile, in other, completely unrelated news, "just last week, Gov. Bob McDonnell held his first fundraiser at the [Governor's] mansion, hosting a reception for the 40 or so people who pledged $1,000 or more to Richmond's soon-to-be-opened charter school." The problem? "Traditionally, Virginia governors have not used the mansion to raise money, though no state law prohibits it." Hmmmm.